June 09, 2008

Tuesday, 6/10

NYS 3:38
LAT 3:12
NYT 3:09
CS 2:47

For this week's Jonesin', Tausig, and Onion crosswords, see the Wednesday post.

Barry Silk makes a lot of themeless crosswords, but the themed Tuesday New York Times puzzle is his work, too. This one's got a lot of HIDDEN COSTS, in that COST is lurking within the other three theme entries. [18th-century Parisian design] is ROCOCO STYLE, a [Beef cut] is DELMONICO STEAK, and one of several schools that is an [Aggies' home] is NEW MEXICO STATE. Fill highlights: PHOEBE SNOW, ["Poetry Man" singer]; ALONZO [Mourning of the N.B.A.], who returned to professional sports after a kidney transplant, which was needed because focal segmental glomerulosclerosis wrecked his kidneys, and that's a cool story; an EXPATRIATE, like an [American in Paris, e.g.]; ST. PETER the [Heavenly gateman]; and DOWSE, or [Use a divining rod]. [3 ft. by 3 ft.] is straightforward, a square yard or SQYD, but boy, does that abbreviation look weird in the grid. Something like "10 sq. yd." looks much less mysterious than SQYD. (Squid?)

I'd love for a constructor—Kelsey Blakley or anyone else who can shed light on it—to tell us how the construction of this New York Sun crossword, "Alternators," differs from that for a standard crossword. Here, a VOWEL (68-Across) is [What every other letter of every answer in this puzzle is]. Is it immeasurably more challenging to assemble a grid with consonant/vowel alternation in every answer? There is no discrete set of theme entries here—the three 15s (including [2001 Wimbledon champ] GORAN IVANISEVIC) are no more or less a part of the theme than any 3- or 4-letter answer. I felt that the alternating-letters gimmick helped me narrow down the fill options only a teeny bit. Was it much of a boost for you, if you saw the VOWEL clue early enough?


I didn't look at the title of Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy puzzle, "A & W," until I was nearly finished with the crossword. The five theme entries are two-word phrases with A.W. initials. There's [Pop art icon] ANDY WARHOL, and ARM WRESTLING with a perfect clue, [Hand-to-hand combat, of a sort]. In the fill, a [Bombshell, so to speak] is a SEXPOT. The word dates to 1954, and I'm wondering why the -pot part of the word is there. Good clue for ATM: [Balance provider].

Gail Grabowski's Los Angeles Times crossword has a GOLF (58-Down) theme in which the theme entries end with golf terms. [Extreme excitement] is a FEVER PITCH, and pitch means...it's a type of golf shot. [Ante, probably] is ONE CHIP, and there's a chip shot. [Charitable relief effort] is a FOOD DRIVE, and a golfer's first shot off the tee is a drive. A SALES HOOK is a [Merchant's enticement], and a golfer with a hook keeps seeing the ball hook to the left. The [Iced tea garnish] could be a LEMON WEDGE, and a wedge is a type of golf club—but no! It's a LEMON SLICE, a slice being the opposite of a hook (ball curves to the right). Anyone else opt for the WEDGE first?